Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Lost Value of Solitude (from Peter Kreeft)

We avoid solitude and silence because when alone and quiet 
we must deal with who we really are.

Working through Peter Kreeft's Making Sense Out of Suffering, I hope to share a few of the great many quotable sections along the way. Here he addresses the deep inner pains of life, how silence and solitude are necessary antidotes, and why we avoid the cure due to the very pain we wish to avoid. Solitude requires us fundamentally to deal with ourselves; when closed in and quiet there is no one else but self. Here is Kreeft, page 11:

"Suicides are up. Depression is up. Mindless violence is up. Boredom is up. Loneliness is up. Drug escapism is up.

But the barbarians are no longer at the gates. The Huns and the Norsemen have long gone. What are we escaping from? Why can't we stand to be alone with ourselves? Solitude, the thing which ancient sages longed for as the greatest gift, is the very thing we give to our most desperate criminals as the greatest punishment we can imagine. Why have we destroyed silence in our lives?

We are escaping from ourselves (or trying to, since yourself is the one thing other than God that you can never escape from) because we all hurt, deep down."

I have been reading lately about the restoring nature of the Gospel, how the work of Christ -- so much more than paying a ticket to heaven -- enables us to live as He would live if He were us in our everyday normal existence. With that in mind, I wonder about this pain of which Kreeft speaks. I know he is right that it is universally true, even for believers. But I also believe that -- now-and-not-yet -- believers have found, in Christ, the answer, the incipient healing. I know Kreeft's discourse will give some marking answers along the way and so this question, for me, comprises part of the prism through which I will read.

But as to the difficulty of solitude, I believe he indeed pinpoints the general problem of humanity. We are most uncomfortable with ourselves -- the real us inside -- and thus avoid solitude and silence because when alone and quiet we must deal with who we really are.  Much easier to never go there. But the "way everlasting" only comes when we let God search us, know us, and cleanse us from unrighteousness (Ps. 139).  Then we are free, especially free to be quiet and alone.